There was a point where it seemed like Destiny was on its way to being remembered as a disappointment. When it launched, people complained about the grind, the general lack of content, and the often obtuse mechanics. A year later, though, it's arguably stronger than ever. How did this happen?
I've asked quite a few Destiny fanatics this very question, and their answers have generally been a variation on one of the following themes: It's a good way to keep up with friends. It's fun to collect all of the loot. The shooting is very good.
Twitter is much the same:
@The_Katbot Player vs. Enemy. Controls are comfortable and familiar. Collecting all the weapons and gear is fun.— Pop (@AkroPop) September 11, 2015
@The_Katbot great gunplay fun with my brother and my crippling need to collect everything in the games I play.— CollinCar (@CollinCar) September 11, 2015
@The_Katbot The actual shooting part of the game is still as good as shooting games get.— Rob Wright (@wright_rob) September 11, 2015
The topic of Destiny also came up when I was driving home with a friend last weekend. An independent developer and a Destiny fan, he told me that Destiny is a hot topic of conversation among industry professionals right now. They want to figure out what makes it so sticky with fans.
Truth be told, it's a mystery here at USgamer. I've played my share of Destiny, but only at the invitation of friends - I haven't felt compelled to venture in myself. I've long been put off by the bullet sponge enemies, the convoluted loot acquisition system, and the simple MMORPG grind of bounties and raids. I'm not alone, either. To my knowledge, no one at USgamer plays Destiny regularly.
Still, it's a game that needs to be reckoned with. The Taken King, a major expansion that some have likened to Diablo III's Reaper of Souls for the way that it stands to possibly elevate it into a high-quality product, is just a few days, and the hype is palpable. People are talking about it on social media, commercials for it aired during the first NFL game of the season, and more people than ever seem to be playing the base game. If Bungie's goal was to create an enduring shooter platform, then they've succeeded.
They deserve plenty of credit for keeping it in the public eye. They've seemingly learned their lesson from some of the mistakes they made with the base game and The Dark Below - content loaded with repetitive content and bizarre design decisions like equipment merchants who would only show up on the weekend. When a large chunk of the Destiny fanbase was on the verge of giving up entirely, Bungie managed to pull them back with the well-received House of Wolves expansion. Now The Taken King is garnering buzz for introducing a huge chunk of new content, including what is ostensibly an actual campaign (hooray).
There's plenty of reason to believe that Destiny will continue to be popular through the next year and beyond. Given a steady drip of content, plenty of people will keep playing as long as their friends stick with it as well. It features an engaging world, some pretty solid PvP, and a level of persistence that goes well beyond the average Call of Duty. It also manages to trigger that obsessive compulsive need in somebody to get all of the fancy weapons and loot. It's not there yet, but Bungie is well on their way to perfecting their loot treadmill.
One way or another, Destiny has managed to survive through the rocky launch, the lack of content, and all of the complaining. Now we'll see if it can not only survive, but creatively thrive.